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Carly Cohen 8/30 Post

The first chapter of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History Of The United States” really caught me by surprise. For all of my life I was told how great of an explorer and person Christopher Columbus was, and reading that this was actually not true really shocked me. Knowing that I was told false information for my whole life made me question what else I have been taught that also isn’t true. History is a strange thing and involves a lot of human error. We are told versions of stories that could not actually be the reality of what happened. This chapter showed me that I was intentionally told the incorrect version of Christopher Columbus’s story. 

In the reading I learned the harsh realities of what Columbus did. He held thousands of Indians hostage and enslaved and raped them. One tribe in particular, the Arawaks were really affected by the actions of Christopher Columbus. They were entirely wiped out, “none of the original Arawaks or their descendants [were] left on the island.” (Page 5).  This opened my eyes to the fact that Columbus was not as good of a man as I once believed. We are not told the full story about the way Columbus acted because the version we hear in grade school is short and sweet. It gives us false hope that our country was founded in a peaceful and comforting way, so we have a false sense of security in the place we live.


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  1. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    I think it’s really interesting how you bring up this idea of a false sense of security. I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but after reading chapter one of Zinn’s book I realized that most people think the discovery and establishment of America was peaceful. We’re given such a false idea of the establishment of the country that we live in it becomes so easy to forget the hardships that the natives faced. So many people would like to remain ignorant and look past the truth to our history which created this false sense of security that you mentioned. This is why I think it’s so important to learn the truth in order to prevent history from repeating itself.

  2. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    I was also very surprised reading about how cruel Columbus actually was. I think it’s interesting how you brought up how we have been almost manipulated by this story, and it is used to make us feel good, when in reality it’s a pretty horrible story. It’s interesting to think about how many stories are told to us the same way, to give us this “false sense of security”.

  3. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I had a similar upbringing in terms of Columbus, throughout school I always learned about him being a great hero who “Discovered the Americas.” While I now know this isn’t true I wonder what story of Columbus is currently being taught in America’s classrooms? Is it still the story of the Great Columbus, or is it the Columbus who committed a mass genocide?

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